What does it mean when food is organic?

Eating organic food is a popular trend today, and many companies are making the switch from “evil” GMO crops to organic ones. But what does this mean? Many people would be surprised to discover what actually goes into organic food.

First off, it is important to understand what is a GMO. Today, when someone talks about a GMO they are referring to gene spliced crops. These crops have been designed by scientists to using a method known as Recombinant DNA, and the process selectively moves select genes from one plant into another. Often times these plants have been designed to be resistant to disease or the predation of insects.

Interestingly, organic crops are also the product of genetic manipulation (just not recombinant DNA). All domesticated crops grown today are the product of thousands of years of selective breeding. And in some cases more exotic forms of “traditional” gene manipulation have been used. Some plants are irradiated in the lab to promote mutations that will (hopefully) lead to new traits that can be introduced by traditional breeding practices. So while organic foods may not be gene spliced, they may have been the product of radiation induced mutations.

Another thing about organic food is its reliance on pesticides and herbicides. In fact, many times organic crops require significantly more pesticides and herbicides when compared to GMO’s. This is because they lack the resistance that has been designed into GMO plants. So while crop yields of organic crops and GMO’s may be similar, GMO’s can achieve that yield with significantly less herbicides and pesticides use.

Ultimately, when it comes to food consumers need to make smart, informed decisions. Don’t jump to the conclusions that all GMOs are bad and all organic foods are good. Don’t jump on the organic bandwagon just because  it is the popular thing to do.